thorough answer, but after watching this clip, I looked into the subject a little. First, here are a couple contributing reasons why, worldwide, the age-old former hemp industry declined. Hemp rope for maritime uses were replaced by steel cables. Hemp as a fiber was replaced by synthetic fibers. Apparently, too, for the same reason as here, U.S. drug laws influenced drug laws in other countries! I'm unclear on the different varieties and how it evolved, just that in more recent times, we've been able to grow "drug-free" hemp.
There has been a growing MARKET for hemp products because of its *versatility* - with some 25,000 different products available - used because of its *nutrition* for food (seeds, oil, and other parts of the plant), food for human consumption and also for animals; clothing; shelter/building materials; transportation, both as a fiber used in car bodies and as a fuel; even for crop rotation to purify the soil. It's also enjoying a market for its *low impact on the environment*, being *healthier for humans*, and at times not being equal to but *superior* to the products it can replace: it could save trees, as hemp pulp is better than wood pulp for what we use wood pulp for - paper, for one; and, unlike styrofoam is totally biodegradable. As a replacement for cotton, hemp grows well without the toxic chemical herbicides and pesticides used in the cotton industry.
And 30+ countries DO now have hemp industries. That's who we buy from: "Current industry estimates report that U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products may exceed $300 million per year. Because there is no commercial industrial hemp production in the United States, the U.S. market is largely dependent on imports, both as finished hemp-containing products and as ingredients for use in further processing." Hemp As An Agricultural Commodity - December 18, 2012 Report to Congress [You'll see Ron Paul's name mentioned.]
The Congressional report and wikipedia mention some of the industries by country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp#United_States
The report says the hurdle for American growers is our drug policies and competition from China and Canada. I have to wonder if they've failed to mention trade agreements; lobbying by the prison-industrial-complex; and also lobbying by Monsanto, supplier of genetically-engineered cottonseed.
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir
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